Skip to Main Content

How Do I Measure My Impact?

Try Them Out!

Google Scholar icon    
ResearcherID icon

If you are a faculty member at Penn State, consider using Pure, Penn State's research networking site.  Visit this site for more information for Pure in the College of Medicine.

Guide Creators

Please contact us with questions or suggestions regarding this guide.

Robyn Reed

Marie Cirelli

Author Tools


image of author tool kit and link to main author page


Visit the author tools page for more helpful information!

Why do we measure impact?


Research impact is a way to measure the influence or contributions a researcher has made to his or her field.  There are many different ways to measure this but the most widely accepted today includes quantitative measures such as the ones discussed below.  Researchers and institutions are under increasing pressure to show value on the research they generate.  One way to do that is to show the influences it has had among other researchers.  As others build upon published work, they cite the research, showing its significance.  Publishing multiple, highly cited papers is often equated with "success" in many fields.


Tools for Measuring Impact


  • Publication Counts (can include all works)

Refers to the total number of works (articles, patents, book chapters, data sets, etc.) authored or co-authored by an individual. This measures amount of output and not the impact of that output.

  • Citation Counts

The number of times a researcher has cited a journal article / book / data set / etc. in scholarly material. Highly cited works are often regarded as high quality and significant.

  • h-index

An author's h-index is a way of measuring a researcher's productivity and impact in a single value. An h-index is "n" number of articles that have been cited at least "n" number of times. Researchers with higher h-indexes are generally thought of as more prolific, as they have more output (publications) and impact (citations).

The tools that are described in this guide for measuring impact through h-index and citation count include Google Scholar and Researcher ID.

Comparison of Researcher ID to Google Scholar
  Researcher ID Google Scholar
Subject Focus Science, Technology, Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanitities Medical, Science, Technical, Business, Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities

Some collections date back as far as 1900 including science and technology. 

  • Journals
  • Books 
  • Conference Proceedings

Available online journals, books, disssertation/theses, and other scholarly materials.

Updated Weekly Monthly
  • A popular resource for measuring impact. 
  • Mainly focused on US research.
  • Illustrates broader scope of impact due to inclusion of non-traditional scholarly materials.
  • Encompasses more international and multi-lingual coverage.
  • Excludes citation data for any scholarly materials not indexed by Thomson Reuters.
  • Inflated citation counts because of inclusion of non-traditional materials
  • No way to determine sources and time spans covered.



  • There are many different ways of measuring research impact.  NO ONE TOOL can generate a complete picture of a researcher's output.  As this guide shows, unique features in each tool measure different types of impact.  Furthermore, qualitative data related to one's research can be important and not captured by the methods described here.


  • Citation counts (the number of times a work has been cited) may generate different values depending on the source of information.  Each supplier of the information uses a unique algorithm for data generation.  Furthermore, the information the sources employ differ so the underlying data behind Web of Science will overlap with but not be identical to that of Google Scholar. 


  • USE OF DATA FOR PROMOTION AND TENURE:  If you would like to employ impact data as part of your promotion and tenure, please consult with your individual department or university guidelines for recommendations on best practices or which sources are admissible.